Saag Paneer Recipe. A perennial classic, paneer in creamy puréed greens (saag) originally hails from the north of India. I’ve tried this with many combinations of spring greens, cavolo nero, baby kale, spinach and more and the ending is always happy. The restaurant versions usually use spinach (palak) but whatever you decide on, the spices will lift the curry and make eating your greens an altogether more exotic affair.
3 tbsp oil
225–250g paneer, cut into 2cm cubes
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2.5cm fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green chilli, chopped
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
100g each of black kale, leafy greens and Swiss chard, washed well
625ml (2½ cups) hot water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garam masala or a pinch of dried fenugreek leaves
Single cream, coriander leaves and lemon or lime halves, to serve
Put the oil into a pan, place over a medium heat and when it’s hot, seal the paneer on all sides until golden. It will spit, so keep the pan loosely covered, using the lid as a shield to protect you from the oil.
Remove the paneer with a slotted spoon, then toss the onion, ginger and garlic into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes until they soften and start taking on colour, then add the cumin seeds, green chilli, turmeric and chilli powder and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Roughly slice and add the greens, along with 500ml (2 cups) hot water and the salt. Let the greens cook, uncovered, until they wilt, then turn off the heat.
When the contents of the pan have cooled sufficiently for your food processor or blender, tip the greens in and blitz to a smooth paste with the remaining 125ml (½ cup) water. (Or use a hand blender.) You should get a thick, creamy and bright green mixture.
Pour the saag back into the pan and place over a medium heat. Drop the paneer in, along with the garam masala or fenugreek leaves. Warm the mixture for 5 minutes until the paneer softens and bubbles start appearing.
Scoop into a bowl and finish with a swirl of single cream and a few coriander leaves. Serve with lemon or lime to squeeze over.
Shop-bought paneer is just fine for this recipe. If you do make your own though, dry it well with kitchen paper before using. Keep fresh lemon or lime handy to squeeze over before you tuck in.
Masala: Indian Cooking for Modern Living by Mallika Basu is published by Bloomsbury ($45.00) Out now!